I was interested to rent 1 bedroom flat for a period of 5 weeks during Olympic Games for my parents. I started my search of property in the beginning of May 2012.
In reply to my request, I was contacted by Rennie Sanger, property Advisor at Jacob Fox. They had a property available and I came to their office to discuss details.
The details of the property:
Flat 709, Indescon Court, South Quay, London.
For the price:
Bills: £7.50 per day
Security deposit: £1500 flat rate
Booking fee £150.00
I was not allowed to view the property. I was told I am short period tenant and can not view the property. Rennie asked me to transfer half of the rent in order to hold the property. Since I am full time student, I had no money to pay half rent in advance, I asked him to allow me to transfer £1000 in order to hold the property. I was in constant pressure that the price is great for an Olympic period and if I do not transfer money immediately, the property will be taken by others.
I had some doubts about the agency so I asked Rennie to show me some documents of company registration at least since I could not find the name of the Estate Agent in Companies House registration list. Rennie did not know company registration number and said he will ask his manager and come back to me later with details. Instead he showed me some magazines with their logo and assured I should not worry about legitimacy of their company. I believed him. For the reference, I have never received ay information about their registration since then.
Scared, that I may lose the property, I transferred £1000. Only then was emailed with confirmation, not a contract. I asked Rennie for a contract and Rennie explained that confirmation is a contract itself and I should not worry. The confirmation stated the following notes:
-Acceptance of your reservation fee does not imply a tenancy.
-If you cancel you will incur a £1000 administration fee. This is non-refundable under any circumstances.
-All deposit monies are to be paid in the form of credit/debit card or cash - the balance must be settled within 5 working days after the offer is accepted.
-All tenant application forms (including references) to be fi lled in online within 24 hours.
-There is an administration charge of £1000 should you fail the referencing criteria or fail to supply any information required by our referencing department.
-In any circumstances where the £400 Reservation Fee is refundable, we will require a maximum of 10 working days to refund the money.
I called Rennie immediately that I am not happy with the listed notes since I was not told about these notes when I was at office. He assured that these notes do not apply to me since I am a short-term tenant and these notes apply to long term tenants only and they have only 1 confirmation form that is why I was emailed with this paper.
I called my bank to cancel the payment but it was too late to cancel. Bank registers every call and if needed I am sure it is possible to find out my call.
I called Rennie again and asked him to cancel everything and return me money back. He assured again that everything is ok and asked me not to worry. I believed him and followed the instructions for payments.
When I completed all the transactions (deposit, rent, bills and fees) it became unsure for my parents to come to London. I called Rennie to ask if it is too late to cancel since my parents may not come. He said it was too late. I asked him to inform me if there is anyone interested in the flat. He said he won't find anyone since there is not much time left. I asked him not to search for someone specifically but if happens that someone needs a flat he can contact me and we may arrange something. He agreed and insisted it won't be possible. Later that day I received a call from Rennie. He suggested that he can refund me £2000 in stead of £4812.5 paid by me and he can find somebody else to move in. I refused the offer. He asked me why I am not accepting the offer. I said the money I have paid is far bigger than the amount he is offering and I rather keep the flat and my parent still may come. He asked what amount I am willing to get back. I said that I want all my money back that is £4812.5. H said it won't be possible. And he asked the question again. Out of blue I said that I may accept 80-90% but not £2000 only and I still would prefer to get all my money back. Rennie said that it won't be possible. I asked him to forget everything and keep everything as it is.
The dates of tenancy were 11 July-14 August (5 weeks).
On 9th of July I emailed Rennie asking to confirm if the flat is ready to move in on 11th of July and how to collect keys. Rennie did not answer my email but called me later that day. He said I cannot move in to the flat since it has been rented to somebody else. It was shocked by this news! That's where the real nightmare started for me. There were 2 days left before the occupancy and I was given options:
Option 1: Take the flat from the 11th July - 19th July and we will refund 90% of the rent back.
Option 2: 90% refund of the rent and no stay in the apartment.
Option 3: Take the £910pw Pan Peninsula property I sent you details for in a previous email for the whole duration ( 11th July ¢â‚¬â€œ 15th August 2012) at the same price as Indescon.
Option 1: did not work because I needed flat for 5 weeks starting from 11th July.
Option 3: the alternative flat was studio size that is not I was interested for.
I had no choice but take the Option 3.
I emailed Rennie on 10th of July:
Sent: 10 July 2012 15:06
Subject: RE: D709 INDESCON COURT
I would like to accept you offer of returning 90% of the rental cost which I calculate to be returned to me £4552.5.
And received an answer:
Subject: RE: D709 INDESCON COURT
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2012 15:12:45 +0100
I have passed this onto the accounts team who will make the necessary refund arrangements.
I have emailed accounts department of Jacob Fox several times, they have ignored all my emails.
Today is 23rd of July 2012. I received from Jacob Fox only £4346.25 that came from Group 23 Ltd:
Transfer of £1500 on 18th of July,
Transfer of £2846.25 on 20th of July, 2012
I am still short £466.25
I have checked the Group 23 Ltd in Companies House register and it shows that the company is dissolved. I also can find the company (Real Estate) neither in the Property Ombudsman nor in the Ombudsman Services: Property.
This situation caused me not only lost of £466.25, but great stress and worry. For some people £466.25 means nothing but for the foreign full time student like me £466.25 is fortune.